The last few years have witnessed a tremendous growth of the demand for wireless services and a significant increase of the number of mobile subscribers. A recent data traffic forecast from Cisco reported that the global mobile data traffic reached 1.2 zettabytes per year in 2016, and the global IP traffic will increase nearly threefold over the next 5 years. Based on these predictions, a 127-fold increase of the IP traffic is expected from 2005 to 2021. It is also anticipated that the mobile data traffic will reach 3.3 zettabytes per year by 2021, and that the number of mobile-connected devices will reach 3.5 per capita.
With such demands for higher data rates and for better quality of service (QoS), fifth generation (5G) standardization initiatives, whose initial phase was specified in June 2018 under the umbrella of Long Term Evolution (LTE) Release 15, have been under vibrant investigation. In particular, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has identified three usage scenarios (service categories) for 5G wireless networks: (i) enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), (ii) ultra-reliable and low latency communications (uRLLC), and (iii) massive machine type communications (mMTC). The vast variety of applications for beyond 5G wireless networks has motivated the necessity of novel and more flexible physical layer (PHY) technologies, which are capable of providing higher spectral and energy efficiencies, as well as reduced transceiver implementations.
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Radar was developed during World War II for defense and security applications, and it was initially used for detecting aircrafts and missiles, replacing short range and narrow field-of-view acoustic devices. Since then, radar use has been progressively widened to numerous civilian applications, including airport and harbor traffic control, remote sensing of Earth, wave forecasting and marine climatology, high-precision detection of small surface movements, biomass and deforestation measuring, and volcano and earthquake monitoring. More recently, it has included car cruise control and collision avoidance, monitoring of heartbeats and respiratory function, physiological liquid detection, and monitoring of artery walls and vocal cord movements, with devices that, thanks to the progress of the technology, can in some cases be even smaller than a modern smartphone. Today, the use of radar-like sensors is getting more and more pervasive, and the future will likely see radar as a ubiquitous sensor, devoted to applications completely unexpected when it was used for the first time.
Whatever the application and the platform, radar systems have the advantage of being used in all weather and light conditions, meaning they can function without interruption or large losses in the quality of service all day and throughout the year. Depending on the application, size, cost, and expected performance, these systems require sophisticated signal processing techniques to extract the necessary information from the observed data that are corrupted by the various kinds of disturbances embedding the useful signal.
The special issue published in IEEE Signal Processing Magazine in July 2019 is divided into two parts. The goal of both parts of the special issue is to show, in the typically rigorous but easy-to-understand style of the magazine, the main techniques applied in different scenarios by different systems, focusing particularly on some of the new civil and commercial applications. There are, however, no articles dedicated specifically to defense, harbor, or air-traffic control nor on long-range remote sensing. This is not because they are not considered equally important or because they are declining in terms of scientific and market interest, but it is only because they are considered more classic topics that are supposedly more well known by a larger audience.
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